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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1879
([1879])

Reports of agents in Montana,   pp. 89-100 PDF (5.6 MB)


Page 99

REPORTS OF AGENTS IN MONTANA. 
99 
better than could be expected under the circumstances. I know of but one
case of 
horse-stealing since I have had charge of them, and those were at once returned
to 
their owners upon my demand, and they have delivered to me a number of horses
to 
be returned to their owners that belonged to white men; and in one case they
fought the 
Sioux and recaptured from them several horses, among which were two belonging
to 
whites, which they brought in and delivered to me. 
GAME. 
Their supply of game has been very limited, more, however, from the fact
that their 
enemies (the Sioux and Yanktons) have and do hold possession of and completely
dominate their territory, upon which buffalo have roamed the past year; so
that prac- 
tically they have been debarred from hunting on their own soil. It has proved
a great 
hardship to them and a source of much uneasiness to myself. 
These Indians, in their habits, are perhaps as wild as any Indians that exist.
They 
have only been in contact with the whites to a limited extent for the last
ten or fifteen 
years, and they have but little conception of the ways of civilized life,
and I might per- 
haps say that their intercourse with the whites has not, as far as I am able
to judge, 
tended to impress on them any of the virtues, but, on the contrary, confirmed
them 
in many of the vices and licentiousness of the whites; and still I am surprised
that 
among people so ignorant there is not more of the vices incident to such
a situation 
than there really is. 
The presence of squaw men among them, of which there are rany, is an unmixed
evil, and is a source of much annoyance. They are always able to converse
with the 
Indians in their own language and frequently advise them to their detriment,
and in 
my own short experience I have known considerable mischief being caused by
the 
falsehoods and misrepresentations of such unauthorized and trespassing parties.
An agent situated as I am is not able at all times to assert his authority
as promptly 
as he should, in many instances of depredations by whites upon Indian reservations,
for the want of a proper officer, and, in my opinion, to remedy the evil
there should be 
an officer at or near the agency whom the agent could use to enforce his
authority. 
The building of Fort Assinaboine, 25 miles west of here, intensifies the
evil, as it has 
brought into the country many irresponsible and bad white men. 
AGRICULTURE. 
With but little exception these Indians have never performed any manual labor.
They, however, begin to perceive that it is but a question of a few years,
at most, before 
the buffalo and other game will cease to exist, and that soon they must depend
upon 
their own efforts to some i xtent to procure the subsistence necessary to
their existence, 
and to that end they begin to look forward to the time when they shall commence
till- 
ing the soil. In fact many of them will be ready next spring to engage in
agricultural 
pursuits, and it will be my endeavor to induce as many as possible to plant
and culti- 
vate a patch of ground for themselves. I will say right here that the land
in the near 
neighborhood of this post, in quality, cannot be surpassed, and in quantity
is quite 
sufficient for all their wants. The rain-fall for 1878 was sufficient to
mature such crops 
as wheat, oats, potatoes, and all kinds of garden vegetables, and the season
of 1879 
has been, if anything, more favorable than the previous year. I was unable
to pro- 
cure the necessary tools and seeds for plowing and planting until at least
two weeks 
late, which may make a material difference in the crops. The seeds furnished
by the 
department arrived here June 23. From present appearances, however, the crops
will 
be a good average. 
I estimate oats raised at 251 bushels; wheat, 1 bushel sowed, 10 to 15 bushels;
pota- 
toes, 25,000 pounds. I procured from my Indians A small quantity of Ree corn
raised at 
Poplar Creek Agency, which I planted, and it is now about ready for the table.
It will 
undoubtedly mature; from which I shall endeavor to save sufficient seedfor
next year. 
Smaller vegetables are quite promising. Pease, cucumbers, onions, beets,
beans, and 
potatoes we have had in profusion for several days. So that giving as favorable
sea- 
son as the two past there should be no difficulty, with sufficient help and
seed, in rais- 
ing sufficient in this vicinity to largely assist in sustaining this people.
Several of the head men of the different tribes have expressed a desire to
have houses 
built for them, and a piece of ground adjacent broken up so that next year
they can 
raise a crop. I shall try and assist them in building several log houses
the coming 
fall and winter, although my corps of workmen is hardly sufficient for such
pur- 
poses. 
SCHOOLS. 
No school has yet been established, but under permit from the Commissioner
I shall 
soon have one in operation, and hope to make it as successful as could well
Ue ex- 
pected. 


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